There's some snobbism associated with hatcheries. Getting birds from an individual breeder is the preferred way to acquire stock. Perhaps so, but poultry hatcheries provide an important resource for poultry enthusiasts.
Hatcheries are the only way to meet the increased demand backyard poultry has created. This is a good thing! Ideal Poultry Breeding Farms in Texas is the largest, shipping over five million birds last year. This is a tremendous number that couldn't be met by small flock breeders.
Hatcheries have the advantage of being experienced in shipping. A hatchery may be the only place able to supply that rare breed you have been longing for. Don't hesitate to contact a hatchery and ask questions. They are knowledgeable and want to hear from you.
If you have a particular concern, or your goal is to acquire show-quality birds immediately, discuss that with the hatchery. They know the details about their birds and can advise you. None of them wants to ship you birds that will disappoint you.
Ideal has regular specials. This week, it's assorted ducks. If you are ready for a flock of ducks, this is the time to buy! Their lovely illustrations show Black East Indies, Buff, Rouen, Khaki Campbell, Fawn and Black Runner and Black and White Magpie ducks. Sign up to get regular announcements of specials.
Meyer Hatchery in Ohio puts its catalog online. The format makes it easy to navigate, with an automatic Table of Contents and the ability to enlarge the photos to get a closer look.
Meyer will ship hatching eggs as well as chicks, ducklings, goslings and juvenile fowl. they have an extensive selection of large fowl and bantam chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, pheasant, guineas, peafowl, swans and other game birds. They'll send you started pullets in Black Australorp, Rhode Island Red, Barred Rock and White Leghorn standard breeds.